My Direct Order from the Pope


WYD 2002 cross

Back in 2002, I was attending World Youth Day in Toronto. My husband and mom took care of my 3 kids and I attended events all week in the city. My friends and I tootled around Toronto as tourists in our own town. We had our printed schedules, but some of the most memorable moments seemed to happen by chance.

One day we walked right into a gathering crowd, lining the path for the Pope Mobile.

I know I wasn’t the only one who thought he looked right into my eyes from just a couple feet away, as his vehicle zigzagged through the crowd. There was a hushed, paused moment as he passed by and we all felt the holiness of his presence.

WYD pilgrims

In a crowd of up to 500 000 people, I bumped into 2 cousins (one from Maryland, one from Arizona) and a couple of my favorite priests during the week of activities.
We made the 10 km pilgrimage to camp out in the sun, the rain, the mice and the frogs. There was a downpour of rain (with unpublicized tornado warnings we learned about after), but the sun came out as Pope John Paul II spoke to the crowd.

Each day, I would come home as late as midnight. I think it was the Wednesday night, Bill listened patiently to my excited summary of the day and when I finished, he said “OK, but do you know what’s really cool? The Holy Father received a copy of your book today.”

I had just released A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families the previous year.
We were aware from our parish priest that there was an older couple living in our town: the last remaining relatives of the Pope: Ludwig, the first cousin of Karol and his wife Elizabeth. Ludwig had died, but Fr. Leslie continued to bring the Eucharist to Elizabeth.

On that Wednesday morning, Fr. Leslie had given Bill a call. He told Bill that he would like to drop by and pick up one of my books and deliver it to Elizabeth before she was picked up for her visit with the Holy Father.

A few days later, I met Elizabeth for the first time. She held my hand and this is what she told me.
treasure chest back


Elizabeth said that she gave ‘Karol’ my book and he flipped through the pages and he said “This is good”. (insert my husband’s imitation of the Holy Father saying these words here).

He told Elizabeth that he planned to take the book with his personal belongings, to look at on the plane. He then looked at the back of the book, pointed to my picture and said

“Tell her to keep doing what she is doing…for families”. 

Needless to say, I’m going to keep doing what I was doing…and I think that that means creating Catholic teaching tools to help families celebrate our Faith…and I’m having a lot of fun doing it!

The story doesn’t end here! Read more here: 

How My Kids Became Part of Penance from the Pope
The First Communion Dress and How we stood up the Pope

Copyright 2013 Monica McConkey 




About Author

Monica, mom of 5, blogs about Catholic crafts and family traditions at She is an author and creator of Super Saints quizzing cards and over 45 Saint, Sacrament, Catechism and Prayer-packed Craft Kits to help teach the Catholic Faith. The Catholic teaching tools and gifts are available through Arma Dei, the Catholic family publishing company founded with her husband Bill.


  1. Theresa Ceniccola on

    Wow, Monica – I just got the chills reading this! Not just because I’m star-struck, but because I am so filled with hope that the Pope is REAL — that he recognizes and encourages the good work you do for Catholic families. Sometimes you have to wonder if what we do makes a difference at all – and I know that was a CLEAR sign from God that you are making a difference!!

    BTW – loved your “Guess Who – Cardinals” printables! I know they personally made a difference in my home and helped me talk with my children about the conclave. Thank you!

  2. What a special story….your work was seen, recognized, and was addressed. You have the green light, to move forward. Nice to get that Green Light….makes the road more clear.

    Cant wait to learn of what tools you have created.

  3. Monica @ on

    Thanks for the comments! Wait until you hear how my kids were part of penance from the Pope! 🙂

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